RIO DE JANEIRO -- The end of an era arrived in a flurry of sluggish serves, mixed signals and netted volleys. Olympic doubles had been Venus and Serena Williams personal property while winning three gold medals over the past 16 years. But age, sickness and a persistent pair of Czechoslovakians combined in a cruel and stunning end to the sisters Olympic doubles career.In hindsight, it shouldnt have been so shocking to see Venus and Serena lose 6-3, 6-4 to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova on Sunday. Venus is 36 years old. These were her fifth Olympics. In 2011, she disclosed she has Sjongrens syndrome, which causes fatigue and joint pain. One day before the doubles loss, a virus cost Venus her first-round singles match, leaving her with cramping, dehydration and stomach pain.But these were the Williams women, winners of 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. Serena is still Serena, No. 1 in the world. They had never lost an Olympic doubles match. The Czechs, relatively new partners, had never won a match together. You kept waiting for the sisters to dig in, for Venus to return and Serena to roar and for their resolve to turn the tide like so many times before.This has been [Venus] goal for the last four years -- to come back to the Olympics, U.S. womens tennis coach Mary Jo Fernandez said before the match. She wants to win a medal so badly in anything.Instead of a fourth doubles gold medal to go with one singles gold for each sister, we are left with the Olympic memory of the Czechs feasting on Venus serve. Of Serena at the net yelling cross, but Venus failing to cover. Of Venus moving stiffly between points, and calling often for a towel. Of Strycova volleying the ball through Venus legs at the net -- twice.As Strycova and Safarova pulled away, the Rio crowd got behind them, chanting for the Czechs and even booing down an attempted chant of U-S-A.Venus only deigned to speak to the media for 15 seconds after the match. Today was not our best day as a team, she said, looking into the distance. We like to have a chance to play into the tournament, we just played a tough team. So we wish them the best of luck in the rest of the event, and well get ready for the US Open in doubles.Serena showed just the briefest glimpse of what it feels like to know that her run of sisterly dominance is ending.Its devastating, Serena said. Then she changed course, unconvincingly. But were really, also, I wouldnt say its devastating. We had a chance to compete for our country, we did the best that we can, and we had a blast out there. I wouldnt actually say it was devastating, it was a lot of fun, and well always remember these moments, these matches. At the end of the day, thats what matters most.We honestly didnt play our best whatsoever tonight, Serena said. We played terrible, and it showed in the results.The Venus and Serena team is not finished. They won Wimbledon doubles this year, and will play the U.S. Open. Serena is still competing in singles in Rio. But for the first time since 2004, when Serena withdrew from the Games with a knee injury, another pair of women will wear the gold.Custom Brian Burns Jersey . Zvonareva, who won the tournament in 2009 and 10, couldnt handle her opponents big groundstrokes in only her third event back after 17 months out with a shoulder injury. Zvonareva made her comeback in January in Shenzhen and played in the Australian Open but lost her first matches at both tournaments. Panthers Jerseys China . Speaking Thursday on TSN 1050 Thursday, the Leafs GM also touched on the questions surrounding the teams leadership and the struggles of his big-name free-agent signing. “Its not from lack of effort from the coaching staff. http://www.custompanthersjersey.com/ . The injury bothered Bledsoe in the Suns victory over the Clippers on Monday and he sat out the teams home loss to Memphis on Thursday night. Authentic Custom Panthers Jersey .ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. Brian Burns Jersey Large . Hamelin, who triumphed in the 500 on Saturday, edged out Victor An of Russia by 0.021 seconds to maintain his lead in the World Cup standings. Russias Vladimir Grigorev was third. In the relay, Canada took control six laps from the finish line to beat Russia and the Netherlands.ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals are both looking to steady the ship going into a four-game series that opens Thursday night at Globe Life Park.The American League West-leading Rangers (58-44) have seen what was once a 10-game division lead dwindle to 2 1/2 games thanks to a 7-17 stretch.The defending World Series champion Royals (49-51) are in fourth place in the AL Central.The pitching matchup in the opener is a repeat of last Saturdays duel in Kansas City, which the Rangers won 7-4. Texas would love to get a repeat performance out of ace Cole Hamels, who picked up the win after allowing one run (none earned) and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.The 32-year-old lefty, 11-2 with a 2.87 ERA, is among the league leaders in several major categories, including wins, ERA and strikeouts.Hamels is facing Yordano Ventura (6-8, 4.99 ERA) again. The right-hander set down the first nine hitters he faced before a walk and a two-run homer by Jurickson Profar started the fourth. Ventura took the loss after being charged with three runs and three hits in five innings with four walks and five strikeouts.Hamels owns the last three and five of the last six wins by a Texas starting pitcher. Thats why the Rangers made the first of what could be several trades to upgrade the pitching staff with Wednesdays deal to land starter Lucas Harrell and reliever Dario Alvarez from Atlanta.You look at both pitchers we acquired, they can help our ballclub, fill a role and add depth, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. With Lucas, he is a guy who is throwing the ball well. He has been around a little bit, had some experience and he has been on a little bit of a roll.Harrell, 31, fills an immediate need in the rotation, with his turn coming up Sunday against the Royals. Harrell has gone 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts ffor the Braves this season.dddddddddddde has the capability of keeping us in the ballgame, manager Jeff Banister said.Alvarez is a hard-throwing lefty with 3.00 ERA with 28 strikeouts and five walks in 15 innings. He has held opponents to a .200 batting average.The Rangers did give up highly-regarded power prospect Travis Demeritte. The 21-year-old infielder was hitting .272 with 25 home runs in 88 games for High-Class A High Desert.Daniels added the Rangers arent necessarily done with the trade deadline looming Monday. While the search for arms tops the list, upgrading other facets of the club could be on the table.I wouldnt rule anything out, Daniels said, but pitching is our priority.Texas took the last two of three last weekend in Kansas City and it 6-4 against the Royals since the start of 2015. The teams split four games in Arlington in 2015, but the Rangers are just 5-7 against Kansas City at Globe Life Park since start of 2012.Royals manager Ned Yost held a team meeting before Wednesdays 7-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels to try to ease concerns for a club thats fading in the standings and is inundated with trade rumors.The get-together was quick -- Yost said about two minutes -- and to the point.We know what we have ahead of us, weve known the trials that weve been through in the past and weve known that weve had our backs against the wall before, he told MLB.com. You know that you always come out of it. Just go out, enjoy your teammates and play the game like you did when you were 12 years old. Thats what we do so well when were successful, is we just go out and play hard and have fun doing it. So sometimes you just take a step back and relax a little bit and inch your way out. ' ' '